Val McDermid is a hugely respected crime writer who has always been on my radar though I haven't read many of her books. I absolutely loved The Mermaids Singing, but found that other books I tried didn't really live up to the intensity of Mermaids. Actually I am sure I only tried one more of her books and found that for me, Mermaids was just special. However, this book came up in my Amazon Recommends and it looked pretty interesting. Forensic science is of course an interest for any crime fan: TV, book, comic whatever and I was interested in learning a little more but not from a science textbook.
I found that this book didn't really tell me any more than I already knew about the science - with the exception of exactly how the geographic forensic science works - and I think the overabundance of shows like CSI, Criminal Minds and the like are probably the reason why. The book does attempt to separate fact from fiction though and set more realistic goals for forensic science, at least the public's perception of what can be done. The gold, though, in this book is the historical examples used to explain they key aspect of forensics being discussed in each chapter. They are absolutely fascinating and endlessly interesting.
Val McDermid manages to straddle science and the layman very well, I never felt condescended to or that the science was beyond my reach. If anything it left me hungry for more - and she very helpfully provides further reading should you desire it. This is definitely not a dry book that loses your interest intermittently. I couldn't put it down most nights. And I slept pretty good too!
A woman is going through security at O Hare airport with her five year old son and is pulled to one side because the metal pins in her leg, the legacy of a car accident, have set off the alarms. She tells her son to stay where he is while she's waiting to be patted down an official leads her son away. The immediate reaction of security when this woman starts screaming hysterically is to taser her and by the time they realise what's happened it's too late - the child has vanished.
So far, so good, a great beginning to a thriller, if hardly that original. BGO was set up to recommend good books and also to warn you against them; this is one of the latter. Val McDermid is a good writer, a tad violent sometimes but she writes well, knows how to pace, her plots career along and her characterisation is excellent - usually. This book is way too long, simply not credible, Stephanie, the heroine, seems to be more interested in relating every detail of her life story to an FBI agent, even holding back some vital information because she's 'ashamed' rather than getting down to it so the hunt for her kid can start immediately and Scarlett, the main protagonist is so closely based on Jade Goody that it strips the narrative of a lot of interest.
This is one of those books where you really wonder 'Did she write this?'. Honestly, don't bother.
I just finished A Darker Domain and liked it. I had watched "Place of Execution" on "Masterpiece Mystery" and enjoyed it, so I thought I would investigate Val McDermid as a writer. The book certainly held my attention--I looked forward to getting back to it at the end of the day.
I enjoyed the main character, a young woman, Karen Pirie, who has recently been promoted in the Cold Case Review Team in Fife, Scotland. As usual, I think I have accidentally started in the middle of a series. Anyway, Detective Pirie has a good mind and uses it, which I enjoy.
The Cold Case approach, as evidenced by the zillions of "cold case" TV programs, by its very nature allows the author to cover a lot of time, so that at times the stories become a kind of (recent) historical fiction. It's also very gratifying to have a long unsolved problem get solved.
In this case, several people disappeared in very different circumstances in Fife during the miners' strike in 1984. In 2007, a new clue appears and a relative of one of the missing people has an urgent medical need to see if he can be found. Detective Pirie ends up working on both of them at the same time and watching her deal with the two stories is interesting.
I thought a lot of the characterizations--even including detective Pirie--are a little one-dimensional. Not to the point of cardboard, so it didn't really bother me, but if you are looking for detailed insight into human nature, this might not be the book for you.
The puzzle was good enough to keep me entertained, although I figured out most of it (that never stops me from enjoying a book though). And I enjoyed seeing how it got solved.
I think I like, but am not in love with, Val McDermid. But I will give her another shot. I think a lot of people really like her at BGO, which makes me think I should keep going.